First Lady Casey DeSantis and the Department of Children and Families on Monday announced the receipt of a $4.9 million emergency grant that will expand crisis counseling services in the Sunshine State.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is providing the grant. It will be used over the next nine months to pay for more crisis counselors within Florida’s network of 2-1-1 crisis helplines.
“Governor DeSantis and I are grateful for the opportunity to increase access to critical behavioral health services,” Florida’s First Lady said . “Through this program, one-on-one counseling will be readily available to those in crisis, ensuring they have the resources and support they need to address their own specific needs, recover fully, and begin to move forward with purpose.”
Florida’s 2-1-1 network helps residents in crisis by providing telephone counseling services and referrals to human and health services. The network is also intended to promote behavioral health services among vulnerable populations including the grieving, first responders, health care workers, children and their caregivers.
Floria’s Crisis Counseling Program is available in all 67 counties and to the Miccosukee tribe.
“With recent increases in calls to 2-1-1 statewide, the need for behavioral health services is overwhelmingly apparent,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “Thanks to support from Governor DeSantis, First Lady DeSantis, and our federal partners, Florida’s children and families will have access to counseling and referral services they need to cope during this period of transition and recovery.”
Florida’s First Lady and the Children and Youth Cabinet expressed concerns last month about young adult suicide amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their concerns came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in July on mental health and suicide ideation during the pandemic.
According to the report, 75% of respondents ages 18 to 24 reported at least one adverse mental health symptom. Moreover, 25% of respondents within that age bracket considered suicide in the preceding 30 days, according to the report.
In Florida, those numbers translate to 462,500 young adults.